Ian Kinsler proves he has pop to center

ARLINGTON, Texas -- There has been a running joke between Rangers manager Ron Washington and Ian Kinsler about the second baseman‘s lack of power to center field.

So when Kinsler sent a 410-foot blast over the center field wall for a home run in the seventh inning of the Rangers' 7-2 win over the Rays, waiting to congratulate him on the dugout step was Washington, wearing a wry smile and shaking his head side to side.

“It’s a joke we have. I tell him all the time he has no pop to right and no pop to center,’’ Washington said. “He’s normally a dead-pull hitter.’’

Right fielder David Murphy, while not wanting to take sides, said in the four years with the Rangers, it was only second home run he’s seen Kinsler hit to center field.

Kinsler said the inside joke with his manager has been running for five years.

“Wash calls me Bootsy. He’s the only one on the team that does,’’ Kinsler said. “And when I got back to the dugout he said, ‘Bootsy, I didn’t think you could go out that way.’ ’’

Kinsler also homered in the fifth into the more familiar left field stands for his fourth multi-homer game of the season and the 11th of his career. His 23 home runs are second on the team to the 28 of Nelson Cruz.

“I’m just trying to help the team any way I can,’’ Kinsler said.

The Rangers open a critical six-game road trip in Boston on Friday. The Rangers lead the AL West by 3 1/2 games over the Angels.